Houston We Have a Problem 11



Ask Rick 174 08/10/11


Floppy Memories

About 10 years ago I committed my great grandfather's memoirs to a Word document and saved it onto a disc. When I came to try to open it again it was corrupted and though I took it to a company who deals with such things, even they were unable to retrieve it. I have since discovered that I do have a hard copy printed out and I also saved it onto a 5-inch soft floppy disc so that may be still OK. The trouble is that I cannot find anyone who has the hardware to access or try this disc. Can you advise me where to go or what to do - short of laboriously rewriting the whole memoirs out again?

Pip Tucker, by email


You can still find drives for the long obsolete 5.25-inch floppy format on ebay from about £10 upwards. However, there are several problems. Your PC may not have a spare IDE interface to connect the drive, or the space inside the case, and your current version of Word may be unable to access the files. That’s assuming that the discs are still readable, and there is a good chance that they won’t be, unless they have been very carefully stored. All is not lost, though, since you have a hard copy. All you have to do is scan the documents, using optical character recognition (OCR) software. This is normally included as standard with most scanners and 3-in one printers; basic flatbed scanners start at around £30. This turns the printed pages into editable text files that you can open in any word processor. The only proviso is that the printing has to be clean and legible, even so you will probably still have to clean it up and correct a few spelling mistakes, but it should still be a lot quicker than re-typing.    



Radioactive TVs?

Am I am correct in thinking that TVs emit Gamma rays even while on standby? My question is just how harmful could this be in a child’s bedroom?

Sheena Macmillan, by email


Older CRT type televisions and monitors used to emit very low energy X-Rays, which are distantly related to Gamma radiation, but it only happened when they were switched on. Since the 1960s emissions of this type have been very strictly regulated but as far as I am aware it was never shown to be harmful. There are no measurable X-Ray emissions from plasma, LCD or OLED flat screen TVs, though like most electronic devices they do produce a wide spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. There’s an on-going debate over the health consequences of this type of non-ionising radiation, particularly with regards to mobile phones, but the general consensus is that TVs, at least as far as electromagnetic radiation is concerned, are harmless.


As a matter of interest household dust attracted to CRT screens has been found to be slightly radioactive. The theory is this is caused by naturally occurring and short-lived radon gas particles in the atmosphere. As they break down the resultant decay products attach themselves to positively charged dust particles, which are attracted to the screen’s negatively charged surface.



Missing iPhone Emails

I have just acquired an iPhone and sometimes I receive emails on my iPhone but not my home computer and vice versa.  Only occasionally do incoming emails go to both places. Do you have an idea how I can overcome this?  I’ll be travelling in South America for several weeks and I bought the iPhone to keep in touch with my children but I currently have no confidence that email communications will work.

Jacqui Ashley. By email


By default most PC email programs are set to automatically delete messages on the remote mail server once they have been downloaded to the computer, so if you subsequently check for messages on your iPhone your mailbox will be empty. It sounds as though the same thing is happening when you access mail on your iPhone, though the default setting is to not delete downloaded mail. You should check to see if this feature has been enabled by going to Settings > Mail > Accounts Advanced and under Incoming Settings make sure Delete from Server it is set to Never. If your home PC is not going to be used for emailing from your account while you are away you can leave it as it is, otherwise you need to go into the email program’s settings (usually Tools > Accounts > Properties > Advanced in Windows email programs) and set that leave a copy of messages on server, so they will always be available on your iPhone. When you return you can download all of your mail but don’t forget to change it back otherwise your servers’ inbox will fill up and some ISPs will prevent new messages from appearing when it is full.



New Order for Picasa

I need to reorder the folders (not the pictures) in Picasa. Can you tell me how to do this? 

GJS, by email


You can, but the options are limited. Go to View > Folder View and choose between Sort by: Creation Date, Recent Changes, Size or Name. The only way I can see to force the folders into a specific order is to rename them alphabetically, or numerically, and use the Sort by Name option.



Polish Windows Problem

A Polish colleague, on upgrading to a new laptop, gave me his old Asus laptop, running Windows XP. Unfortunately, the laptop and operating system are in Polish, which I don't speak. I can't work out how to change the language to English.

Peter Robinson, by email


The short answer is that you can’t. The language and regional settings in XP only cover keyboard settings and the only way to change the operating system language is to install an English version of Windows.



© R. Maybury 2011 1909


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